Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 1, 1779 A Little Feminism


Spent a leisurely day in my own company. Slept very late, into the afternoon, and in fact woke and rang for Marianne at half past noon, only to fall asleep again before she arrived. Rose at the ridiculous hour of 2 o’clock, bathed and dressed, and then wrote letters to my mother, my steward, and T-. I received a short note from T- also, but it imparted little of consequence. He encouraged me to read more of Msr. Rousseau’s works, though so far I find La Nouvelle Heloise to be uninteresting. Perhaps his philosophy will be more to my liking.

Dined alone and walked in the gardens from 5 o’clock until half past seven. Read outside on a bench and enjoyed the very fine weather. I had some hopes that perhaps I might see Msr. Lamotte, but that did not occur and I think that it is well. The good weather and pleasant greenery reminded me of my dear Saint Saturnin. When shall I see it again? If I travel directly from here to Paris perhaps I can make a stop in Auvergne on the way. Of course I will. I need to visit with my mother in any case, and so a few days delay in Riom and at Saint Saturnin will not be amiss.

Returned to my room and dined alone again later. Attended to the business which my steward sent me, and napped from 9 o’clock until half past ten. Rose and wrote more letters and it now being past midnight I might be expected to retire to bed, but my earlier nap has refreshed me, and so I think that I may trouble my eyes with reading some more. Tonight my thoughts are all where they should not be, so perhaps a book will divert them.

And yet, I cannot let that be the final word. I am forever censoring myself, afraid that someone will read this. I would be a happier bride than many, mistress of my own choice, free to choose a younger man than my mother could, if not a more handsome man. Will he ever ask? When he does will I still want him to? My mind and heart are straying, and I think it is because I am tired of waiting. I feel myself becoming an old maid, and I have had offers from others that I would not take, believing myself destined for better things. Have I been wrong? Are my charms now to diminish with age while I wait for a treasure not to be found?

I long for home, for Saint Saturnin and the valleys of Auvergne. Do I want to go to Versailles? I was in Paris not long ago but did not enjoy it, will this visit be different? Will my efforts bring any result? If they do not, then the money will have been wasted and we will be in a worse situation than we were before. That land has always belonged to Auvergne, and if Auvergne was not held by a woman I believe it would have been returned long ago. Men may assert their rights in bolder voice than women can. We fight with powder and charm, where they may take up arms or argue the law on their own behalf.

I spent a peaceful day, but the night finds in me all of the dissatisfaction and fear that linger beneath the surface. They may think us vain and silly creatures who do nothing but play at amiable vices all day, when in fact if I could work I would accomplish so much more than they may dare. My course is different from theirs, but my aim is steady and fixed.
Olympe, Comtesse

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